In this exhibition we discover a whole invisible population in portraits marked by a context that lends them a symbolic value. This complex portrait gallery must be placed in the context of the recent developments in the representation of the city of Siem Reap, Cambodia. The majority of recent approaches to the city, preoccupied with the issues of spatial organization, have tended to minimize, to the point of ignoring them altogether, those who inhabit these spaces. It goes to Philong Sovan’s credit that he was able to place people at the center of his project and inscribe them within the urban complexity at a key moment in the city’s history and development.
Staged and realistic, documentary and totally invented, Sovan’s photographs don’t aspire to any “truth.” They reflect questions faced today by a young Cambodian man with respect of his country’s cities and their rapid transformation, which compels him to question its meaning and attempt to preserve the traces of the passing life.